The loop formed by these two trails is one of the most heavily used upper elevation routes into the Pusch Ridge Wilderness. This moderate hike leads through an area of diverse habitats that include excellent examples of Canadian Zone riparian areas and ponderosa pine forests. If you’re a bit of an amateur naturalist, you might want to bring a guide to Arizona’s trees as well. You’ll see quite a few different species along this trail which changes aspect and life zones as it loops around a false summit of Marshall Peak. You’ll find aspens here, of course, but you’ll also pass by Douglas-fir and white fir, Gambel and silverleaf oak, madrone and more. Notable sights along this view-rich trail include the bare granite walls of the uppermost reaches of Sabino Canyon, through which the first half mile or so of the Aspen Trail passes. Along this part of the route the pathway literally sparkles with flakes of mica and quartz. After taking in the wide angle overlooks at Lunch Ledge and Marshall Saddle, both of which include overlooks of the Wilderness of Rock area, towering Lemmon Rock, and Romero Pass, take the Marshall Gulch Trail back to your starting point. It leads down a cool, shady canyon which is usually well stocked with wildflowers and pleasant little pools.
At a Glance
Hiking and equestrian uses are permitted on the entire trail. Mountain biking is acceptable on the "non-wilderness" segment of this trail, but not worthwhile, because you quickly enter the wilderness. However, motorized and mechanized vehicles and equipment, including mountain bikes, are not permitted in Wilderness. See the Wilderness section of this guide for more wilderness rules and ethics.
Santa Catalina Ranger District
Directions: Take the Catalina Highway off Tanque Verde Road in Tucson. Drive 4.2 miles to the Forest boundary and continue 26 miles through Summerhaven to the Marshall Gulch Picnic Area. All roads are paved, but chains or 4-wheel drive may be required in winter because of snow. The trailhead is at the end of the road. You’ll have to walk the last couple hundred yards in winter when the road into the picnic area is closed.
Great views. Scenic canyon. Cool mountain setting. Fall colors. Easy access. 3.5 miles of Aspen Trail #93 and 1 mile of Marshall Gulch Trail #3 are within the Pusch Ridge Wilderness. Water can be found in Marshall Gulch year-round. Purification of water is recommended prior to use. The Marshal Gulch Trail #3 is a segment of the Arizona Trail. When hiking in remote areas go with a companion whenever possible. Always tell someone where you’ve gone and when you expect to return.